It is important that a small business is aware of what their competition is saying and doing. Even if you can't take any actionable steps with the information, it provides you with a competitive advantage of at least knowing. Maybe you check out your competitor's Facebook page every once in awhile, but is that enough? You may even like your competitor's page to get their posts in your news feed. But with Facebook's algorithm it is very possible that you aren't seeing their posts because you don't engage with them. So what can you do to better and more easily monitor what your competition says and what's happening with their business?
Let me preface this by saying that we are not affiliated with Perch and this is not a paid advertisement. It's just a nice tool, great for small businesses. There are other monitoring tools out there but they either come at a cost an SMB is willing to pay, or they just aren't intuitive enough for them to use. The solution comes in the form of a mobile application that is available for both Android and iOS devices and is completely free (which means it's at least worth a shot at trying out, right?) and incredibly easy to use. So get started by going here and getting the app.
After it's installed on your device you'll be able to sign up via Facebook or with an email account. Don't worry...if you sign up with your Facebook account it won't post to your profile that you're spying on your competitors. After you've signed up you will get started by adding your businesses own information. This is nice because you'll be able to monitor your businesses social media activity and online reviews from one place.
After you've set up your business you can start searching for other businesses to watch (your competition). You are able to search by business name or by category. This is one area in which I think the app could use some improvement. For example if you search 'restaurant' results will show, but not if you search 'restaurants'. If the business you are looking for isn't there, you can add it.
Next click on the business that you want to start "watching" and you will see a preview of their recent social posts, photos and their business links which include things like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google+ and Foursquare. If this looks like the correct business click the + sign to watch that business.
After you've added the businesses you want to watch, you'll be able to open up the app and see all recent activity for those businesses. Another nice feature that I really like (in case I don't end up opening the app) is the email digest. You can choose to have a recap of what's happened sent to you either on a daily basis, weekly basis, or never.
Do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes to try out the app. It will allow you to take a more proactive approach to being aware of what your competitors are saying and what people are saying about them. This information is power for any small business!